Australia take unassailable 3-0 lead in Ashes series after bowling England out for 68 on day three at MCG; debutant Scott Boland bags remarkable figures of 6-7 from four overs as hosts thrash Joe Root’s side by an innings and 14 runs
Last Updated: 28/12/21 1:45am
Australia have retained The Ashes after torpedoing England for just 68 on day three of the third Test in Melbourne to win by an innings and 114 runs and take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
Australia were quite brilliant with the ball as they reduced England to 31-4 late on day two and there was little let-up on Tuesday morning as the tourists added just 37 runs to their overnight total.
Debutant Scott Boland finished with remarkable figures of 6-7 from four overs, dismissing Jonny Bairstow (5) and England skipper Joe Root (28) before removing Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson for the visitors’ 53rd and 54th Test ducks of the year.
Cameron Green cleaned up James Anderson (2) just under an hour and a half into the third day’s play to clinch Australia’s Ashes victory after just 12 days of cricket and ensure the Baggy Greens will keep the urn until at least 2023, when the sides next meet again in England.
Root and Stokes picked up some early boundaries to give England, who trailed by 51 runs at the start of the day, hope that they could not only make Australia bat again but also set the hosts a challenging fourth-innings target on a tricky pitch.
That idea was shattered, though, as Mitchell Starc bowled Stokes (11) through the gate in the fifth over of the morning and Boland then shredded everyone else – the final six wickets falling for 22 runs and the last five for just eight as England suffered their lowest Test score in Australia since 1904.
Boland pinned Bairstow lbw in the 23rd over – a few balls after having him dropped by Green at gully – and then had Root caught by David Warner at slip in the 25th to leave England 61-7 and with all hope having evaporated.
Boland caught Wood off his own bowling and then forced Robinson to snick behind to Marnus Labuschagne in the space of three balls in the 27th over as England’s tally of ducks matched the record 54 they had previously set back in 1998.
Anderson ensured that would not extend to 55 when he clipped the first ball he faced into the leg-side for a couple of runs but was on his way in the next over as England tumbled to a chastening defeat, their ninth in their last 12 Tests and 12th in their last 13 away Ashes Tests.
England’s last victory on Australian soil came way back at Sydney in January 2011, in a series they won 3-1 under the captaincy of Sir Andrew Strauss, and they will now be aiming to avoid a 5-0 sweep with Tests in Sydney (January 5-9 and Hobart (January 14-18) to come.
Ample reasons have been given for England’s horror tour, in which they lost the first Test in Brisbane by nine wickets and the second in Adelaide by 275 runs, with the batting top of that list.
England have a top-score of 297 in six innings and failed to pass 200 on five of those occasions – with their double-figure return in the second innings at Melbourne a disastrous new low.
Root is the only player to average over 40 and each of the three batters tried in the opening positions – Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley – are averaging below 13.
Root fell short in his bid to prise the record for the most Test runs in a calendar year from Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousfuf, who amassed 1,788 in 2006.
Australia retain the Ashes as England are bowled out for 68 – a new low on a tour full of them. Wonder what excuses await us this time.
Root ended up with 1,708 in 28 innings in 2021, placing him third on the all-time list for most Test runs in a year, two behind the 1,710 West Indies’ Sir Vivian Richards managed in 1976.
The 30-year-old has carried England’s batting this year, scoring 1,178 runs more than any of his team-mates – Burns second on that list with 530 runs.
Root has now presided over back-to-back Ashes series defeats in Australia, having also led the side during their 4-0 shellacking in 2017/18, and with the 2019 series in England drawn 2-2, he is yet to win a red-ball series against Australia as skipper.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins, meanwhile, has won The Ashes in his first series as captain, although he was absent for the second Test in Adelaide due to Covid isolation – Steve Smith taking over for that game.
Cummins can now look forward to a warm welcome at the Sydney Test in the New Year as he returns to his home ground as an Ashes-winning captain.
For opposite number Root, though, he will face questions about another dismal result for his side and about his future as leader, all while trying to galvanise his troops and ensure they do not suffer a third away Ashes trip in succession without winning a match.
LONDON — Manchester City have shown themselves to be in a league of their own, so the Premier League should be thankful that Chelsea and Liverpool are still able to keep us all entertained. Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge helped neither team and only consolidated City’s vice-like grip on the top spot, but football is about jeopardy, risk and overcoming flaws, and when it all comes together, you get an unforgettable game like this one.
Even before City moved 11 points clear at the top of table with a 2-1 win at Arsenal on Saturday, this second-versus-third clash was always a case of both sides needing to win to maintain faint hopes of catching Pep Guardiola’s winning machine. City’s win at the Emirates was their 11th successive Premier League victory and they have all been won with such monotonous ease, scoring 33 goals and conceding just seven, that every three points is now met with little more than a shrug of inevitability.
Barring an unlikely collapse in the second half of the season, City will win a fourth league title in five years and you will struggle to count on the fingers of one hand the times they have had to dig deep into their reserves to overcome adversity during that period. Guardiola has built one of the all-time great teams in English football history during his six years at the Etihad, but they may simply be too good to contribute to games like this one.
Chelsea and Liverpool gave us such a pulsating encounter because they both have weaknesses that can be exploited by their opponents. And as a result, they both had to take risks in an attempt to secure a crucial victory.
And they also had to go into the game with unwanted distractions hovering over both clubs.
City, in contrast, have enjoyed a remarkably serene run of successes since losing to Crystal Palace in October, which is why they are free-rolling to another title. But the Premier League is regarded as the most exciting in world football because of games like this, and teams like Chelsea and Liverpool and the drama they create.
Christian Pulisic, playing centrally in the absence of Lukaku, wasted a golden chance to open the scoring on seven minutes when, with only stand-in keeper Caoimhin Kelleher to beat, he was indecisive and allowed the youngster to smother the ball. It proved a costly miss when, two minutes later, Mane took advantage of his lucky escape from a sending off by pouncing on a mistake by Trevoh Chalobah to score.
Chelsea were in disarray and Liverpool looked like the team that won the title in 2019. When Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 on 26 minutes with a stunning near-post finish after gliding past Marcos Alonso, it seemed as though Liverpool were about to give Chelsea the kind of hammering they inflicted on Manchester United during a 5-0 rout at Old Trafford earlier this season.
Liverpool were unable to score a third, though, and two Chelsea goals in the space of three minutes at the end of the first half turned the game on its head.
When Kelleher punched Alonso’s in-swinging free kick clear on 42 minutes, the keeper looked to have done well to deny the Chelsea defender. But the ball dropped the Mateo Kovacic on the edge of the penalty area and, as he was backpedaling, the midfielder somehow guided a volley beyond Kelleher and into the net. It was a spectacular display of technique by the former Real Madrid player and it gave Chelsea a foothold back into the game.
And it took them just three minutes to score the equaliser when Pulisic atoned for his earlier miss by latching onto N’Golo Kante‘s pass before beating Kelleher with a precise left-foot shot past the Republic of Ireland international. As the chaos continued on the pitch, Mason Mount almost put Chelsea 3-2 up in first-half stoppage time with a scuffed volley that bounced just wide of the post.
When a game is so eventful in the first half, it rarely delivers a second half of the same quality because of coaches plugging the holes that had led to the earlier excitement. But while the goals stopped flowing, the entertainment didn’t.
Salah forced a crucial save from Edouard Mendy with a 25-yard lob on 57 minutes and Mane was also denied by the Chelsea keeper. Kelleher, not to be outdone, then produced a stunning save to prevent Pulisic from scoring his second of the game.
In total, there were 25 chances over the 90 minutes, with both sides registering six on target. Neither could find a winner, though.
“For the outside world it was quite a good game to watch, but we came here for three points and didn’t get them,” Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said.
Even if one team had done enough to claim all three points, it’s difficult to imagine they would have been able to close the gap on City, who are destined for another title. And the challenge facing both chasing clubs only grows more daunting in the next month, with Salah (Egypt), Mendy and Mane (both Senegal) now heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
But the Premier League still knows how to excite, even if the title is already a foregone conclusion.
Doncaster’s Lightning Novices’ Chase could be next on the agenda for Do Your Job following his creditable effort in defeat at Kempton over the festive period.
Runner-up to My Drogo and Belfast Banter in Grade Two and Grade One novice hurdles in the spring, Michael Scudamore’s stable star made a successful start to his chasing career at Warwick in November.
The eight-year-old fell at the eighth fence when stepped up in class for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown, but bounced back to finish second to Edwardstone in the Wayward Lad last week.
With Scudamore keen to avoid a rematch with the winner, who is seemingly bound for the Kingmaker at Warwick, Do Your Job could instead bid for Grade Two honours at Doncaster on January 29.
Reflecting on his Kempton performance, the trainer said: “I was very pleased. He jumped well and travelled well and did everything right, he was just beaten by a better horse on the day.
“The main objective was a clear round really and maybe if we hadn’t fallen at Sandown we might have pressed on a bit more and made it more of a staying race.
“The most important thing was to get a clear round under his belt and get some more experience over fences for him.
“I think we’ll stick to novice races while we can and we might look to the race at Doncaster. That is what we have pencilled in at the moment, anyway.
“It would certainly be Plan A to try and avoid Edwardstone and I was very pleased to read he was going to go for the Kingmaker. Hopefully they stick to that plan!”
While Do Your Job looks set to remain in novice company on his next start, Scudamore admitted is considering a step into the handicap arena for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham – a race he won with Next Sensation in 2015.
He added: “I’m sure he’ll have an entry in that. He also ran very well at Aintree last year, so there’s that to consider as well.
“He looks like a horse that could have the right sort of profile for a Grand Annual and we’ll see nearer the time.
“In some ways it might make more sense to go for a handicap now, but as we saw at Kempton some of these novice events don’t have a lot of runners in them and there’s some decent prize-money on offer, so it seems silly to pass them over when you’ve only got one chance to run in them really.”
Lito Adiwang was booted out of ONE Championship strawweight rankings after coming up short against Jarred Brooks. ‘The Thunder Kid’ is already itching to step back inside the cage and hopes to fight a ranked fighter next.
Of the fighters in the ONE Championship strawweight division rankings, the 28-year-old Filipino seeks to score a date with No.2-ranked Yosuke Saruta.
“I want a big comeback. I still want a big name. I want to challenge Yosuke Saruta. Maybe if ONE allows it, and he wants it, then I’ll take it. Saruta is someone who I really want to test myself against,” said Adiwang in an interview with ONE Championship.
The 28-year-old admits it is a dangerous fight and a huge risk to take. The high-risk, high-reward scenario is something that Adiwang would like to take as he seeks to put his name back in the rankings again by beating a former champion.
“It’s a big risk for me because I’m coming off a loss, but I want a great comeback and a big name in my return so I don’t fall far off from the rankings.”
Lito Adiwang seeking for a better year in 2022 at ONE Championship
Adiwang now holds a professional record of 13-4 and has been competing in ONE Championship since October 2018. He won his first five fights before receiving his first loss against Koha Minowa via a split decision two years later.
The Benguet-based fighter had three fights in 2021. However, he also suffered his second loss in ONE Championship against Jarred Brooks.
Still in his prime, Adiwang goes back to the drawing board and seeks to polish his MMA skills in 2022.
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“I have to check my mistakes inside the Circle, but I also have to check my mistakes outside the Circle. It has to be a balance. Sometimes, I forget other personal obligations and those are the things that I have to work on. I have to balance things out based on last year. I have to correct this in 2022.”